Author Roy Blount Jr. Presents Alphabetter Juice at Unity Temple May 12
Roy Blount Jr. is the author of 22 books, about everything from the first woman president of the United States to what barnyard animals are thinking. Roy Blount Jr. will introduce his latest, Alphabetter Juice, or The Joy of Text on Thursday, May 12, at 7 pm at Unity Temple (875 Lake Street, Oak Park). Blount is also known as a panelist on NPR's Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me and occasional guest on NPR's Prairie Home Companion.
Admission is $10. Each ticket can be redeemed for $10 off the cover price of Alphabetter Juice at the event. Ten percent of all book sales at this event will be donated to Unity Temple Restoration Foundation. Tickets can be purchased at The Book Table, Lake Street or online at http://booktable.net/.
Writers at Wright is a partnership between The Book Table, Friends of the Oak Park Public Library, Midwest Media and Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, dedicated to bringing the finest authors to speak at Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece, Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL.
Prior to his newest work, Blount Jr. penned Hail, Hail Euphoria: Presenting the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup, from HarperCollins. The one before that, Alphabet Juice, is out in paperback from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. The one before that, Long Time Leaving: Dispatches From Up South (Knopf), won the 2007 nonfiction award from the New England Independent Booksellers Association; and AudioFile chose the audio version (HighBridge) as one of the year's top five books read by their authors.
Roy Blount Jr. has made his living using words in every medium, print or electronic, except greeting cards. After his twenty-first book, Alphabet Juice (2008), it finally seemed he'd gotten over his ABC's. But a single glass of Juice could never contain the etymological goulash that always simmers on the back burner of Blount's mind. Thus, Alphabetter Juice, a second helping of Blount's dexterous wordplay and linguistic legerdemain. Rather than proper English, Blount prescribes an "over-the-counter" mélange of a language, unearthing a slew of factoids, fripperies, and flabbergasting phenomena that will change the way you speak-or misspeak.
Blount rejects the standard linguistic notion that the connection between words and their meanings is "arbitrary." As he tells it, the look and sound of our words is pinned crucially to their "definitions"-whatever those are. From sources as venerable as the OED (in which Blount finds an inconsistency, at whisk) and as new as urbandictionary.com (to which Blount has contributed the number-one definition of "alligator arm"), and especially from the author's own wide-ranging experience, the freshly squeezed Alphabetter Juice derives a natural take on language that is unlike, and more fun than, any other. Drink up.
He is a panelist on NPR's Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me, ex-president of the Authors Guild, a member of PEN and the Fellowship of Southern Authors, a New York Public Library Literary Lion, a Boston Public Library Literary Light, a usage consultant to the American Heritage Dictionary, and an original member of the Rock Bottom Remainders. He comes from Decatur, Georgia and lives in western Massachusetts. In 2009 he received the Thomas Wolfe Award from the University of North Carolina .
His first book, about hanging out with the Pittsburgh Steelers, About Three Bricks Shy...And the Load Filled Up, now available from the University of Pittsburgh Press, was named one of the ten best sports books ever by Jonathan Yardley of The Washington Post -- and called, by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker, "the best of all books about pro football."
Norman Mailer said of his second book, Crackers, "Page for page, Roy Blount is as funny as anyone I've read in a long time," and Time placed Blount "in the tradition of the great curmudgeons like H.L. Mencken and W.C. Fields." Garrison Keillor said in The Paris Review, "Blount is the best. He can be literate, uncouth and soulful all in one sentence." Playboy said he was "known to the critics as our next Mark Twain." Whether, on the one hand, it is his place to quote these plaudits and whether, on the other hand, he feels that they are adequate, are questions not for him to answer at this time.
His one-man show at the American Place Theatre was described by The New Yorker as "the most humorous and engaging fifty minutes in town"--which, when you stop to think how many fifty minutes there are in New York at any given time, is something. In l988 he expanded that show into Roy Blount's Happy Hour and a Half. He has performed for Folk Tree Concerts and at Chet Atkins' Celebrity Golf Tournament, and introduced Chet in Carnegie Hall. He has appeared on A Priarie Home Companion frequently and on CBS Morning Show, Tonight Show, David Letterman Show, Good Morning America, Today Show, Larry King, Politically Incorrect, and in a series of TV spots for the NBA starring Bill Murray, which he helped Murray create.
For Sports Illustrated, where he was a staff writer and editor l968-75, he has rafted the Amazon (attacked by piranha), played baseball with the 1969 Chicago Cubs (hit a ball 350 feet), become all but athletically a virtual member of the dynasty-years Pittsburgh Steelers, and hung out with Wilt Chamberlain, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson and the world's oldest then-living lifeguard. (Though not all at once.)
He has written the screenplay of Larger Than Life starring Bill Murray, the lyrics of a song Andie MacDowell sings in Michael, and an HBO fairy tale, The Frog Princess. Of his two one-act plays produced at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, one became part of an Off-Broadway review. In films he has portrayed a reporter, an outraged grocery shopper and a partygoer dressed as Truman Capote.
He covered the l992 Democratic and Republican conventions and Presidential election night by commenting, live and instantaneously, from a Barcalounger, on Comedy Central. He has jumped out of a plane, graduated (conditionally) from race-car driving school, scuba-dived with sharks, sung on stage (as a member of the authors' rock band Rock Bottom Remainders) with Bruce Springsteen and Stephen King, hit a game-winning Texas Leaguer (and had limes thrown at him) in Venezuela, caught catfish with his bare hands in Illinois; and ridden a camel in Kenya, a dolphin in the Florida Keys, an elephant in L.A.
Born l94l to Southern parents in Indianapolis. Grew up in Decatur, Georgia. Vanderbilt B.A. '63, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude; Harvard M.A. '64. U.S. Army l964-66. Reporter and columnist for Atlanta Journal and part-time English instructor at Georgia State College, l966-68. Free-lance since leaving SI in l975.
Husband of painter Joan Griswold, father of social worker daughter Ennis and director-writer-actor-songwriter son Kirven (with whom he wrote and appeared in a five-minute film on extreme sports for ESPN), grandfather of Jesse, Noah and Elsie. No pets at present, but previously dogs, cats, horse, rooster, snake, turtle, hamster, monitor lizard, parakeet and hens.
Roy Blount Jr. appears at Unity Temple as part of the Writers at Wright series, a partnership between The Book Table, Friends of the Oak Park Public Library, Midwest Media, and the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation.